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What Every Grower Should Know About Plant Root Problems And How To Fix Them

Today, we’re going to talk about what is literally and figuratively the foundation of your plants’ and your grower success.

That is, your plant roots and the problems you might encounter there.

This is so important because, despite the extreme importance of plant roots, they are often overlooked because they aren’t as visible as the above-soil area of the plant.

But you can’t have great harvests or a finished product without great roots, so we’re going to discuss:

  • Why your plant roots are so important.
  • The warning signs and oft-overlooked symptoms of plant root problems.
  • Our best tips for fixing plant root problems, step-by-step.

Before we go any further, let’s start with…

Why Are Your Plant Roots So Important?

Experienced growers will tell you there’s a direct correlation between dense, thick, healthy root systems and big yields.

Yet most growers know very little about how important the root system is to grow success.

It’s obvious that your plant’s roots act like an anchor that hold your plants upright in your growing medium.

It’s also obvious that your plant’s roots absorb the water and nutrients you feed them and draw those crucial resources into the plant for growth.

So when most growers think of how their roots work, they assume they only work in one direction – flowing from roots up into the plant.

The Big Bloom Secret Hiding In Your Plant Roots

The fact is, when you have healthy plant roots, you’re building up an important storage system.

This is because the flow of nutrients goes from your roots up to your plant and leaves, then back again.

The process starts when leaves absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide (CO2), and combine this with the water and sugars, starches and other nutrients that flow up from the roots.

Some of these critical carbohydrates are sent back down the plant to be stored in the roots, which is critical for high-value plant growers because the amount of starches and sugars stored here directly benefit future floral growth and quality.

In bloom phase, with only 12 hours of light per day, your plants manufacture fewer starches and sugars with less photosynthesis. This is also the phase in which they need the most energy to build their structure.

That’s why a healthy root system is crucial — to make sure plants have access to all the stored energy they need, when they need it most, for maximum bud production, potency and bigger yields.

How Can You Identify A Plant Root Problem?

There are many symptoms your plants could be displaying that might indicate you have a root problem. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Curling or cupping of leaves.
  • Plant may appear droopy or overwatered.
  • Wilting stems or leaves.
  • Brown or slimy roots, which is typically root rot.
  • Your runoff water smells bad (musty or rotting smell).

While there may be many symptoms, these are among the most common.

How Can You Identify A Plant Root Problem?

The Most Common Causes Of Plant Root Problems

There are a number of potential causes of root problems, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to for what is causing your problems.

However, as you read about the potential causes of this damaging condition, keep in mind how they are all interrelated:

  • Wrong size containers: Your plant container can be the wrong size if you have a small plant in a big container or a big plant that has outgrown the small container. Small plants in big containers have trouble getting enough oxygen to their roots and are easy to overwater. Conversely, if your plant has outgrown its container, it can become root bound and no matter how many nutrients or how much water you give them, the plant is being choked because its root system sucks it all up and craves more. In that case, you need a bigger container.
  • Wrong environment (hot/cold): For best results, you need to grow in the optimal temperature. Too cold and your plants can go through cold shock, which results in wilting and sick roots. Too hot and your roots can easily experience problems like root rot.
  • Not enough oxygen: Your plant roots need oxygen to be healthy. Lack of oxygen becomes a breeding ground for pathogens that can lead to root rot. The more oxygen rich the environment, the better for healthy roots. Also, make sure containers have drainage holes for this reason.
  • Overwatering: Your plants can be drooping because they’re starved of oxygen if their roots are sitting in stagnant water caused by overwatering.

As you can see, there are a lot of potential causes for your root problems. So how do you solve yours?

How To Fix Plant Root Problems As Quickly As Possible

The key to fixing your plant root problems is in correctly identifying the cause.

Again, prevention is better than cure, so if you’re following all the best practices for growing high-value plants, then it should help you avoid most of these root problems.

That said, root problems are common.

So first, identify your issues by looking at possible causes. This step is somewhat like being a detective in your grow room. Here’s how to tackle it:

  • Could you be overwatering? If so, maybe your container is too small. Or maybe you’re watering every day, or too often.
  • Could you be underwatering? If so, perhaps your containers are too small for your growing plants. Maybe you need to water more often.
  • Do your roots look slimy, brown and gross, like they’re covered in snot? You probably have root rot. Think about if you’ve overwatered. If you’re growing hydroponically, do you have enough oxygen in the water? What’s the environment like in your grow area? Is excessive heat and humidity causing the growth of pathogens?

An Important Note On Ideal Temperatures: Your preferred growing method can have a big impact when it comes to the proper temperature of your roots to avoid problems.

The bottom line is that the perfect breeding ground for bacteria is a warm, wet place, which is the environment you want to avoid for your roots.

Remember that whatever your grow-room temperature is (76 degrees Fahrenheit, for example), your water temperature will also be. If you’re doing regular hydroponics, then it shouldn’t be an issue most of the time. If you’re submerging your roots 24/7 like with deep water culture, then you will increase your likelihood of having root issues. And if the water is hot (85 degrees Fahrenheit, for example), it’s very likely you will have root pathogens.

Water temps play an important role because water under 70 degrees Fahrenheit maintains 30 percent more dissolved oxygen. This is significant when drowning your roots; it’s kind of like giving them a snorkel to breathe better.

In other words, when growing with methods like aeroponics or deep water culture, you need a water chiller or some other method to keep your water temperature cooler. You can also achieve this by storing a reservoir outside and pumping it in if you have colder outside temperatures.

Identifying a potential cause can help you identify the action step you need to take as part of the solution.

Once you’ve identified the potential solution to the problem, you must act fast to save your roots, then observe them for several days to see if they’re improving. If not, perhaps you need to try something else.

How To Tell If Your Roots Are Healthy

Healthy, high-value plant roots should look white or cream colored.

Are your plant roots healthy?

Be aware that your nutrients can stain your roots, but that doesn’t mean something is wrong with them. They should all look the same color in this case, and you should be able to see each individual strand of the root, plus there should be no rotting or funky smells.

Root Zone Supplements Can Help You Get And Keep Healthy Roots While Increasing Yields And Potency

The root zone supplements from Advanced Nutrients were designed to enhance and amplify the performance of your root-zone functions to not only keep your plants healthy, but also to directly translate to upper plant growth.

Many growers use either Voodoo Juice, Piranha or Tarantula as a standalone supplement, and this works well.

However, it’s recommended they be used altogether, because each of these powerful supplements work in synergy to produce something truly special in the root zone of your plants. This is because each supplement in the Root Mass Expanders group was designed to enhance and amplify the performance of your root zone functions, creating a bigger root system and bigger plants.

For more information, click here to learn about the Root Mass Expanders.

Bottom Line, Pay Attention To Your Roots Because They’re The Foundation Of Grow Success

There’s an old saying that “you need a strong foundation to build anything worthwhile.”

And nothing could be truer when it comes to growing high-value plants, as consistency and predictability are key.

After all, your root system is the foundation of your plant’s performance. The wisdom really is true that “the bigger your roots, the bigger your fruits.”

Taking care of your root zone isn’t as glamorous as looking at big, juicy buds, but you will see the benefits each and every day and enjoy a better harvest if you follow the tips in this post.

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The Advanced Nutrients Team

Since 1999, Advanced Nutrients has been committed to educating the community and bringing the most up-to-date knowledge to the forefront of grows across the globe. Every article you read here has been curated by Advanced Nutrients’ industry experts, so you can continue raising your bud weight… and your reputation.

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Over time, components within the nutrients settle on the bottom of the bottle. When you pour a bottle without shaking it, you can potentially be pouring out an unbalanced solution. Shaking up the nutrient bottle ensures you are pouring the right blend into your reservoir, giving your crops the nutrition they need.

Usually, it’s not a problem. But some products are incompatible with each other and can damage your plants when they’re used together. For example, bloom boosters with high PK numbers or low-grade silica products can destabilize your nutrient mix and cause nutrient lockout.

Nutrient manufacturers design their products to be used with each other. In doing so, they include specific portions of each nutrient in each product, so crops receive the right nutrition through each stage of the grow cycle. When you stick with one manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about inadvertently destabilizing your nutrient mixture. One example of why you need to stick with only one manufacturer’s products is Advanced Nutrients’ pH Perfect line. These products are designed to keep your crops’ root zone within a specific pH range. When you use them alongside products from another manufacturer, we can’t guarantee your root zone will maintain its optimal pH level.

Yes! If you’re growing with Advanced Nutrients products, you can use our easy nutrient calculator to generate the correct nutrient chart for your crops in seconds. Check out Advanced Nutrients’ nutrient calculator here. Another great resource is our library of free custom-growing recipes. Try our expert grower-tested nutrient schedules here.

You can also download our official BudLabs app to generate nutrient schedules and receive real-time notifications for specific tasks, including feeding your crops. Upgrade to BudLabs Pro to maintain profiles on an unlimited number of crops.

If you are a grower, visit this link to find the closest Advanced Nutrients Authorized Retailer. If you are a retailer, visit this link to identify our official distributors.

Our greatest passion is growing great cannabis—and helping other growers do the same. That’s why we offer complimentary cultivation support 24/7 from Monday to Friday and from 9 AM until 7 PM PST on Saturday… With the same level of advice licensed producers would pay consultants tens of thousands of dollars to unlock.
Just call 1-800-640-9605 or email support@advancednutrients.com. For Spanish-speaking growers, email spanishsupport@advancednutrients.com.

Yes! If for any reason you are not absolutely thrilled with the results you achieve when you use our products, just bring the unused portion, along with your original sales receipt, back to the place of purchase within six months, and ask for your money back. Find out more about our Grower Guarantee here.

Advanced Nutrients has spent many thousands of man-hours developing a technology that automatically balances your pH for you — putting it in the “sweet spot” and holding it there for one week.

And the technology is so “smart” that it can account for many of the aforementioned variables in your grow room. Our proprietary pH buffering agents and stabilizing mechanisms became the foundation of a new system aptly called pH Perfect® Technology. Learn all about it here.